The Museum of Finnish Architecture: Principles for a safer space

Published: 14.09.2021
Updated: 14.09.2021

Architecture belongs to everyone. We at the Museum of Finnish Architecture want everyone to have the opportunity to have a safe museum experience and participate as themselves, without fear of discrimination or harassment. 

These are the Museum of Finnish Architecture’s principles for a safer space. We have not invented them ourselves, but rather have looked at various examples and modified the principles we ourselves use based on them. 

We are committed to the principles of a safer space in all the activities of the Museum of Finnish Architecture. These principles are followed in the museum’s own spaces, at events and when working with the public, in virtual spaces and on social media. The Museum of Finnish Architecture actively strives to create a safer operating environment for museum visitors, its partners and own staff. 

As a museum, we have reviewed – and will continue to constantly review – the contents of the museum from the perspective of equality and non-discrimination. We would like to pay special attention to the experiences of our minority patrons in the museum’s facilities, exhibitions and when working with the public. 

All our staff, including temporary staff, receive training in equality and the identification of various forms of discrimination. 

We communicate the principles of a safer museum space to all our partners and require a commitment to them at museum events. In addition, you as a visitor also have the opportunity to contribute in the following ways to the Museum of Finnish Architecture being a safer space for everyone: 

Equality, inappropriate behaviour and intervention 

We are all equal. Human dignity belongs to everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, country of origin, nationality, language, religion or belief, opinion, disability, state of health, sexual orientation or any other personal-related reason. Everyone has the right to be heard and to be respected. 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture does not tolerate discrimination or harassment, for example racism. We always and immediately address these, regardless of who is the one discriminating or harassing. 

The use of space and participation 

Everyone can contribute to the safety of common spaces and situations. Observe your own actions and their impact on others! We all have different needs and desires in common spaces and situations. Idle hanging out in the museum is also permitted. Be attentive and give space to others as well! 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture is responsible for the safety of the common spaces and situations. As a museum open to all, we hope to receive feedback on our activities. We want to hear new viewpoints and learn from them. We are committed to evaluating and developing our own operations based on the feedback we receive. The Museum of Finnish Architecture actively makes space for different ways of being and interacting. 

Assumptions and generalizations 

Assumptions and prejudices are unavoidable, but people can strive to critically examine them and re-evaluate their own actions. Be sensitive to the presence and experience of others! Do not interfere with or make assumptions about another person’s appearance, clothing, body, or individual speech! Avoid stereotypes, generalizations, and gendered language in your speech! 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture does not tolerate inappropriate verbal or non-verbal comments. All of our staff, including temporary staff, receive training regarding stereotypes. 

Questioning, learning and hesitation 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture is a space for learning. Questioning and hesitation are allowed. We all make mistakes, which we are committed to learning from. Learning can evoke uncomfortable feelings, but this is not dangerous. We provide and make space for each other to learn. Everyone has the right to feel and express their own experience of discrimination or harassment, and this may cause discomfort to others. We support each other as we move into ​​an area of discomfort. 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture is also ready to listen, learn and correct any mistakes it has made. 

Language, discussion and speaking plainly 

We pay attention to how we talk to each other and what kind of language we use. Feel free to ask if you do not understand. 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture strives in its communications and activities to use plain language and clarify difficult concepts. The Museum of Finnish Architecture’s main language of communication is Finnish. Much of its content is also available in English and Swedish. Where possible, translations and information in other languages ​​are also available. 

Responsibility 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture’s staff is here for you. In situations and events organized by the museum, our staff are responsible for addressing any inappropriate behaviour and discrimination. If you want to talk with someone or need help, there is always a member of staff available on site. You can give feedback either directly to the staff, with a feedback form, or via email. You can also give feedback when you notice something to remark about in the actions of the Museum of Finnish Architecture’s staff. 

Everyone is responsible for respecting others. We support learning and encourage the asking of questions. Please note, however, that no visitor to the museum is obliged to teach others. You can also find out independently about equality and issues that are new to you. 

Everyone can take care of the safety of the common space by intervening in inappropriate behaviour and harassment, or by notifying the Museum of Finnish Architecture’s staff. 

Feedback and the opportunity to comment and influence 

You can give feedback anonymously to the Museum of Finnish Architecture about its principles for a safer space and the safety of the museum in general via the following form: https://q.surveypal.com/Palaute-Arkkitehtuurimuseon-turvallisemman-tilan-periaatteet-2021

The Museum of Finnish Architecture’s staff processes the feedback about once a month. If you so wish, we will contact you. Your feedback is very important to us in developing and improving our operations. Thank you for taking the time to write! 

Definitions 

Why “safer” and not “safe”? 

The principles of a safer space are a communal- and safety-enhancing practice. In safer spaces, primarily the staff or the person in charge but also other participants, take responsibility for the safety of the common social space and situation, especially in difficult situations. The principles of a safer space make it possible to deal with conflicts instead of merely tolerating them. The word “safer” is used instead of the word “safe” because it is impossible to guarantee a completely safe space for everyone. 

The principles of safer space come from subcultures and alternative cultures, especially sexual- and gender-minority events and spaces, where one wants to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be themselves, without fear of harassment, discrimination or even violence. 

What is discrimination? 

Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of different groups of people or individuals in relation to one or more of the following characteristics, for which they cannot be discriminated: 

• gender 
• transgender identity or non-normative gender expression 
• cultural or ethnic background 
• religion or other belief 
• functional ability 
• sexual orientation 
• age 
• citizenship 
• descent 
• language 
• appearance / body 
• class / socio-economic background 

Discrimination can be direct or indirect. Inadequate accessibility,* harassment, sexual harassment and incitement to discrimination are also forms of discrimination. 

* The Museum of Finnish Architecture building is not fully accessible. For more information on the museum’s accessibility, see the [accessibility report]. You can also give us feedback on the museum’s accessibility. 

What is harassment and inappropriate behaviour? 

Harassment or inappropriate behaviour can be aggressive pressurising, threats, bullying, ostracizing, or intimidation. Sexual harassment is an unwanted and inappropriate physical approach, making sexual remarks and innuendo. 

Materials to support independent learning 

The Museum of Finnish Architecture has highlighted two glossaries in this section, which can be utilized to support independent learning. The glossaries have been compiled by the organizations listed below. Thank you for your work! 

Fem-R Glossary: 

Fem-R is a feminist and anti-racist civil society organisation, which aims to increase the voice of racialised people in Finnish society and to be part of building an equal and safe Finland for all people. The Fem-R glossary [in Finnish only] brings together words and concepts related to feminism and anti-racism. The glossary is intended to serve as a source of feminist discussion for those not yet familiar with the terms in practice: 

http://www.fem-r.fi/sanasto/  [In Finnish only] 
https://www.fem-r.fi/in-english/ [English summary] 

Seta’s Rainbow Glossary: 

Seta is a human rights organisation, whose objective is a comprehensive transformation in society so that human rights and well-being are realized both in Finland and internationally, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Seta’s Rainbow Vocabulary compiles definitions and terms for gender and sexual minorities. 

https://seta.fi/sateenkaaritieto/sateenkaarisanasto/ [Finnish only] 
https://en.seta.fi/ [English summary] 

Acknowledgements 

We would like to thank all those who contributed to the development of the principles and those who provided feedback for this important work. 

The principles used by the following cultural actors have been used as a source in compiling the Museum of Finnish Architecture’s principles for a safer space: #StopHatredNow, Ruskeat tytöt, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Vantaa Art Museum Artsi, Oodi Central Library, Culture for All.